On 4 and 5 April, ECF took part in the kick-off meeting of Innovative participatory sustainable business model for cycling along the Iron Curtain Trail, alias ICTr, in Fertőd, Hungary. ICTr is a 3-year Interreg Central Europe project. ECF is one of 12 project partners from Poland to Croatia, led by Westpannon Regional and Economic Development Public Nonprofit.
The project aims to develop new tourism products along EuroVelo 13 – Iron Curtain Trail and three cross-border pilot areas, and to promote sustainable tourism via dedicated business models involving SMEs. The transferability, impact measurement and governance of EuroVelo 13 – Iron Curtain Trail will also be an important focus. The consortium of partners is very diverse and involves universities, SMEs, NGOs, public bodies, regional development organisations, etc.
ECF will mainly be involved in preparing a EuroVelo 13 partnership for the long-term management of the route and in upgrading existing communication tools on EuroVelo.com and the EuroVelo 13 app. ECF will also take part in the definition of the needs for the business model and footprint calculator of cycling products, which are related to the bookable offers search engine available on the EuroVelo website.
During the kick-off meeting of ICTr, a study trip was the occasion to learn from the experiences of local stakeholders. In Fertőd, Rabensteiner Panzio and Hotel Patonai, two accommodation providers, presented how important cycling tourists are for their local businesses (almost 70% of all clients in high season are cyclists!) and the specific services they offer – bike storage, flexible catering, bike rental, and more.
In Hegykő, a nearby village, we visited Mariska Neni Haza, a cycling-friendly tourist info point presenting the natural heritage of the Neusidler See region. A passport to promote local heritage accessible by bicycle was introduced for visitors, and services such as bike parking and toilets are provided. The mayor of the village also presented the Iron Curtain heritage at the border between Hungary and Austria. The border was in place from 1947 until 1989.
A newly created local brewery, Szentkoi, was also the location of a visit. The owners are members of the national cycling-friendly certification programme and are part of a local producers’ partnership.
ECF is looking forward to collaborating with experienced and skilled partners to develop further EuroVelo 13 – Iron Curtain Trail as a leading project for cycling and cultural tourism in Eastern Europe.